Causation

There is plentiful suggestion in both anthropological and psychological literature that some mythological, magical belief system is self-induced as spontaneous operations of the psyche for each and every sentient individual. It is through an individual's definitions of "chaos" and "spirit" that reality is defined. Our focus has been almost exclusively on the forms of Christianity in subduing chaos. We have argued that Christianity in all of its variants is one example of that human trait and that economic variables determine the form of all religious products. But there is naturally a problem of causality and identification of the endogenous variable(s). Our analysis, as revealed in the discussion of the Weberian hypothesis (chapter 8), focuses on the central interpretive problem. Do economic variables determine forms of Christianity (or more general forms of religion) or does a specific form of Christianity (or religion gen erally) determine economic growth and income rates ? In very general and largely anecdotal tests in chapter 3, we argued that economic variables have a clear impact on general kinds of religion chosen. But, clearly, both hypotheses could be correct and religion and economic growth could be endogenous and interrelated (the most likely and correct scenario). Some of the most interesting studies in this area have been conducted by Robert J. Barro1 and Barro and Rachel M. McCleary.2 For example, Barro and McCleary, using a twenty-year survey of church attendance and a variety of religious beliefs by the International Social Survey Programme and other sources, show generally that religiosity declines with economic growth, that church attendance and religious beliefs are positively related to education in advanced countries (thereby negating one interpretation of the secularization hypothesis), and that religiosity is negatively related to urbanization.3 A major conclusion of this study is that belief is positively related but church attendance is negatively related to economic growth. It is the level of belief relative to attendance (the "productivity" of the religious sector) that is a positive determinant of economic performance.

Little empirical work has been done, however, on how forms of Christianity affect economic growth. An exception that includes one nonChristian form is a study of the impact forms of Christian religion have on growth in U.S. states. In pooled regressions from the years 1952, 1971, and 1980, economists William C. Heath, Melissa S. Waters, and John Keith Watson estimate the impact of four religions—Catholicism, Judaism, liberal Protestantism, and fundamentalist Protestantism—on state per capita income.4 Including control variables for each state, they find that both fundamentalist and Catholic versions of Christianity exert negative and significant influences on per capita income over this period, with fundamentalism producing the most extreme decrease. Larger Jewish populations exerted a strongly positive influence on per capita state income after 1952 and liberal Protestantism had a positive (but statistically insignificant) impact. Naturally, such studies may be biased due to simultaneity problems. After estimating income levels and religious membership jointly, Waters, Heath, and Watson find the same results as those obtained in single-equation models. Fundamentalists "engender attitudes which inhibit economic activity... [by supporting] a religiously appropriate environment [that] results in legislative prohibitions on the production and/or consumption of goods and services.''5 Moreover, there is growing evidence that creativity and growth are enhanced in areas of the United States where social tolerance is the norm.6 Creativity and growth decrease at national levels when scientific research is limited or thwarted by evangelically inspired legislation against, for example, certain scientific procedures such as embryonic manipulation.

In this final chapter we explore, both historically and empirically, the hypothesis that economic and other variables may determine religious form. We are certainly not the first to suggest this. It has long been maintained in sociological literature that types of religious belief are quite sensitive to income and education. For example, more fundamentalist (Pentecostal) sects—those promising more direct rules and instructions for divine assistance or retribution—appeal to low-education, low-income groups.7 Latin America is experiencing a conversion to those types of religion in preference to or in addition to traditional Catholicism, which itself is becoming more conservative for those Christians. For its part, Roman Catholicism has responded by maintaining and enforcing rigid forms of the rigorous precepts of that religion in order to compete with hardline evangelical sects, as discussed later in this chapter, and to maintain credence in its product. The point is that there is a clear interrelationship between economic variables and the form of the religious product. First, consider how this might be interpreted within the historical context of the evolution of Christianity during and after the Protestant Reformation.

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